State DOT officials, allies charter FRP Institute for Civil Infrastructure

Sources: Regulatory Resources LLC, Westfield, Ind.; CP staff

A new research and certification group will promote the advancement of composite reinforcement for heavy/civil concrete in North America and beyond. The FRP Institute for Civil Infrastructure, incorporated in January 2022, will serve as the focal point for research, testing, material certification and education surrounding fiber reinforced polymers, according to President and CEO Richard Krolewski. 

A veteran of the National Precast Concrete Association, where he served as director of Certification and Regulatory Services, Krolewski is the founder of Regulatory Resources LLC and facilitator of its 20-member DOT Board of Directors. “DOT engineers have been battling concrete corrosion for many years, and want other options for reinforcement,” he says. “Our DOT representatives and industry experts are absolutely committed to creating a material verification program that will create standards, inspect and audit manufacturing facilities, and provide training. The goal is to give DOTs confidence in adding FRP producers to their qualified producer lists. We’re looking at the DOTs as our primary customers in this mission.”

The FRP Institute is working with the AASHTO National Transportation Product Evaluation Program (NTPEP) to develop complimentary work plans that will move acceptance of composites forward. “It’s two sides of the same coin, really,” notes FRP-NTPEP Task Force Co-Chair Joseph Stilwell, P.E. (Maine DOT). “We are two totally separate organizations, but we’re working to advance an emerging technology to provide confidence to state and government entities while creating a quality benchmark for manufacturers.”

Stilwell sees the FRP Institute as the industry arm, “providing training, industry standardization, quality control and labeling.” The NTPEP group is focused more on “material verification testing to make sure the fabricator is producing materials that are within the specification for the governing ASTM standards.” Both organizations will perform audits for manufacturing facilities interested in being included on DOT qualified producer lists. The FRP Institute is currently auditing FRP manufacturers and enlisting members. 

North Carolina DOT Manufactured Products Engineer Cabell Garbee, P.E. chairs the DOT Advisory Board and serves with Stilwell as NTPEP Task Force co-chair. “The FRP Institute is the industry group driving products forward, working with manufacturers that are interested in providing quality products to DOTs,” Garbee observes. “The NTPEP task group is concerned with making sure those products meet the minimum specifications that will enable state DOTs to qualify the producers for their listings. The two groups really go hand-in-hand.”

The certification program has been under development for nearly two years, with a planning group of 11 DOT representatives and a growing list of composite reinforcement experts from industry and academia, notes Krolewski. “The bottom line is that the DOTs are our customers,” he adds. “The FRP Institute was created by DOT materials engineers and industry experts to fill the gap in composite reinforcement standards for highway infrastructure. By working cooperatively with the AASHTO-NTPEP task force, we will be able to provide low-cost comprehensive auditing, material verification and related programming to advance the use of non-corrosive reinforcement in the next generation of infrastructure.”  

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